Algerian govt urges losing parties to step aside
Posted Wednesday, May 23 2012 at 18:04
Fifteen Algerian political parties that claim to have been cheated of votes in May 10 elections should leave parliament if they refuse to accept the result, the interior minister has said.
The parties, including four Islamist groups, had expected to pick up a sizeable slice of seats in the legislative polls, the first since Arab Spring protests in neighbouring nations forced Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to launch a reform package allowing new parties to run for power.
But the 15 parties won only a combined 28 seats out of parliament's 462 and on Monday, amid claims of voter fraud, they said they would set up a parallel "constituent assembly" when the new assembly is inaugurated Saturday.
Interior Minister Daho Ould Kabila told Algerian news agency APS on Wednesday that the losing parties must accept the poll, or else step aside.
"When you don't recognise parliament, you resign," he said.
The new assembly will be dominated by the National Liberation Front (FLN), which has ruled Algeria since independence and took 221 seats, while another party loyal to the regime took 70.
Among those parties complaining of vote rigging is that of Islamist leader Abdallah Djaballah, who was confident of broad support during the campaign but only won seven seats.
Many Algerians, opposition parties and analysts say the results announced by the interior ministry and confirmed by the constitutional council are a sham.
Bouteflika invited 500 foreign observers for the election, including 150 from the European Union, who gave a qualified endorsement of the official results but monitored only a few of the 40,000 polling stations.
On Wednesday the national election commission said political parties had requested a delay to the publication of a report into the elections after some parties said they wanted to amend it.
The report is expected to meet some problems and the commission has already lambasted two cabinet ministers who visited polling stations while voting was going on. Campaigning is not usually allowed at polls.
Separately, FLN head Abdelaziz Belkhadem is under fire from party members, who want to impeach him for nepotism.
A party spokesman told Wednesday's El Khabar newspaper that Belkhadem would seek a vote of confidence June 10.